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How to use SteamAPI RestartAppIfNecessary function in your game

How to use SteamAPI RestartAppIfNecessary function in your game

If you are developing a game that uses Steamworks API, you may want to use the SteamAPI RestartAppIfNecessary function to ensure that your game is launched through Steam and has access to all the Steam features. This function checks if your executable was launched through Steam and relaunches it through Steam if it wasn't. This is optional but highly recommended as the Steam context associated with your application (including your App ID) will not be set up if the user launches the executable directly[^1^].

In this article, we will explain how to use this function in your game and what are the benefits and drawbacks of doing so.

SteamAPI RestartAppIfNecessary

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How to use SteamAPI RestartAppIfNecessary

The SteamAPI RestartAppIfNecessary function is part of the Steamworks API, which is a set of interfaces and functions that allow your game to interact with Steam. To use this function, you need to download the Steamworks SDK and integrate it with your project. The Steamworks API officially supports C++, using Microsoft Visual Studio 2008+ on Microsoft Windows, GCC 4.6+ and Clang 3.0+ on macOS and SteamOS / Linux[^1^]. If you are using a third party engine or a programming language other than C++, you may need to look for more specific instructions for your engine or language of choice[^1^].

Once you have the Steamworks API set up within your project, you can start using it by calling the SteamAPI_Init function to initialize the API. This will set up the global state and populate the interface pointers which are accessible via the global functions which match the name of the interface. This MUST be called and return successfully prior to accessing any of the Steamworks Interfaces[^1^]!

The Steamworks API will not initialize if it does not know the App ID of your game. When you launch your app from Steam itself then it will automatically have the App ID available. While developing you will need to hint this to Steam with a text file[^1^]. You can create a text file named steam_appid.txt in your game folder and write your App ID in it. You can find your App ID on your app's page on the Steamworks Partner site.

After you have initialized the Steamworks API, you can call the SteamAPI RestartAppIfNecessary function at the beginning of your main function. This function takes an App ID as a parameter and returns a boolean value indicating whether your game needs to be restarted through Steam or not. If it returns true, it starts the Steam client if required and launches your game again through it, you should then manually close your application as quickly as possible[^1^] [^3^]. If it returns false, it means that your game was already launched through Steam and you can continue with your normal execution.

Here is an example of how to use this function in C++:

#include "steam/steam_api.h"

int main(int argc, char* argv[])

// Initialize Steamworks API

if (!SteamAPI_Init())

// Error handling

return -1;

// Check if game needs to be restarted through Steam

if (SteamAPI_RestartAppIfNecessary(123456)) // Replace 123456 with your App ID

// Close application

return 0;

// Continue with normal execution

// ...

Benefits and drawbacks of using SteamAPI RestartAppIfNecessary

Using this function has some benefits and drawbacks that you should be aware of before deciding whether to use it or not.


  • It ensures that your game is always launched through Steam and has access to all the Steam features, such as achievements, leaderboards, overlay, friends, etc.

  • It prevents users from launching your game directly from the executable without running Steam, which may violate some terms of service or cause some issues with DRM or anti-cheat systems.

  • It simplifies the development process by allowing you to run your game from any location without worrying about setting up the App ID or launching Steam manually.



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